Racial reconciliation theme for 2-day event
By Kaytlin Nickens/Capital News Service | 1/25/2019, 6 a.m.
With art, music, dance and spoken word, a national organization that fights injustice held a two-day event in Richmond to reflect on the history of slavery in Virginia and to promote racial reconciliation.
The organization, Initiatives of Change USA, partnered with more than 30 nonprofits, businesses, artists and social justice activists to host “Something in the Water” at Studio Two Three on West Clay Street in Richmond. The event began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and concluded Tuesday — the National Day of Racial Healing.
“This year is 2019, and it’s the 400th year of observance in Jamestown,” said Sionne Neely, the group’s director of marketing and communications. But she noted that it also is the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans being brought to Jamestown — the first slaves in what would later become the United States.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation helped create Initiatives of Change USA and establish the National Day of Racial Healing to celebrate humanity, acknowledge racial division and increase understanding and communication among all ethnic groups.
Richmond is one of the 14 cities to receive a grant from Initiatives of Change USA to achieve those goals.
Sarah Workman, the organization’s program development coordinator, said she is concerned with how to change the narrative of Richmond, where slaves were once bought and sold.
Ms. Workman left Richmond at the age of 18 and didn’t return until almost 16 years later. She said it was important for her to come back and understand what the people of color she grew up with went through.
“A big part of what racial healing means to me is finally unearthing that empathy and understanding,” Ms. Workman said. She said she is “trying to figure how I can be in this community using my privilege — my whiteness — to help this community.”